A Brief History of NLAPW
(Excerpted, in part, from the NLAPW website)
The first meeting of The League of American Pen Women was organized by Marian Longfellow O’Donoghue (Henry’s niece), who wrote for newspapers in Washington D.C. and Boston. She invited fellow journalists Margaret Sullivan Burke and Anna Sanborn Hamilton to join her in establishing a “progressive press union” for the female writers of Washington. “The Dauntless Three” brought together seventeen women: writers, novelists, newspaper women, a teacher, a poet, and an artist. They hoped that these “active pen women” would find in the group “mutual aid, advice, and future development” for each other and their careers (quotes from The League Minutes, 26 June 1897). Soon after, artists and composers were welcomed by their literary sisters.
The association became The National League of American Pen Women in 1921. Membership increased through the 20s and 30s. First ladies have traditionally been awarded honorary membership and on occasion have actively participated in League functions. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt was lauded as the hardest working active member of NLAPW. The First Lady communicated through her syndicated column, My Day, as well as radio broadcasts and speaking engagements. Other noted Pen Women from the League’s rich history include: authors Pearl Buck and Eudora Welty; renowned Columbus artist, Alice Schille, and Vinnie Ream, sculptress of the rotunda Lincoln. Many members were Pulitzer Prize winners.
National conventions began in the early 1920s and have continued as biennials alternating between Washington D.C. and other cities around the nation. The Pen Woman magazine debuted in 1920 and continued until 1923 when The Official Bulletin was substituted for the periodical. In 1940, The Pen Woman reemerged as the organization’s journal and vehicle for members’ creative works and League communications.
The League’s headquarters are located in the Pen Arts Building, a 20-room mansion in the DuPont Circle area of Washington, D.C., where an extensive library is housed. Pen Women and their guests may book a room for a modest fee when in Washington.
The Central Ohio Branch of the National League of American Pen Women has been in existence in several iterations since 1932. In April of that year charter number 65 was issued to the Columbus Branch, with author Florence Ralston Werum as founder and Branch President.
Monthly meetings are usually held on the first Tuesday of the month from September to June, except January. We offer stimulating programs with broad appeal because they are divided between music, writing, and the fine arts. Since arts professionals have such diverse schedules, in order to accommodate our members, at least half the meetings and programs are held in the evenings. Luncheons with guest speakers are held at a variety of places large enough for our growing Branch. Every other year a group exhibition with work by our national members and inclusive of all the arts is held in a local or regional gallery.
At the turn of the 20th century the pen, pencil, and brush represented the main instruments used by writers, artists and composers. Now in the twenty-first century, that is not longer so. Electronic instruments, digital studios, computer-manipulated images, paperless means of publishing and marketing, and other evolving types of technology have given rise to new forms of artistic expression never dreamed of by our founders.
To be more inclusive of contemporary art forms, at the 2016 National Biennial Conference, officers and members recognized the need to update the National By Laws. A new category of membership “Allied Professions” was added to the existing membership categories. Those changes have thrown open the doors for Branches to welcome gallery or museum curators, video artists, film producers and directors, art history professors, musicologists, arrangers, professional vocalists, instrumentalists, dancers, choreographers, publicists, teachers of journalism and creative writing and many more professions in the arts.
As a 501(c)(3) organization the Central Ohio Branch embraces the National mission of outreach.
The purpose of Outreach is to advance the creative arts and increase an awareness of the need for all citizens to have access to the enjoyment of the arts and creative endeavors.”
-National Outreach Mission Statement
Women of the Central Ohio Branch support, encourage, inspire and learn from one another. We mentor new members through the application process and celebrate one anothers’ successes. As Marian Longfellow O’Donoghue proclaimed at the first meeting in 1897, we are . . .
“One for all, all for one.”
Additional information may be found at www.nlapw.org.